In a (sort of) repeat of the 2009 final, the 2010 FIBA U20 European Championship Men final game will pit France against Greece in Zadar tonight.
France got past Spain 86-83 in yesterday’s thriller in Croatia, while the host nation’s team lost to the Greeks a bit earlier, 71-56.
Team France gave its U20 roster a 100% makeover, completely regenerating a roster that last year boasted the likes of Kevin Seraphin, Antoine Diot and Thomas Heurtel. No matter: La Republique found plenty of talent kicking around in the country and assembled a quick, fun squad for the 2010 FIBA tourney.
Above all, the super backcourt tandem of Paul Lecombe and Andrew Albicy is leading the way for Les Bleus. Each is scoring 11.4 points per game, but the latter in particular is becoming the individual talk of the tournament: The diminutive 1.77-meter (5’9½”) tall point guard has been tout partout in this tournament with 6.1 assists and an insane 3.3 steals per through eight games thus far.
Though he’s shooting a tad too often for as cold as he’s been – Albicy is just 28-for-81 (34.6%) in overall shooting – this lad shows much promise, and perhaps someday we’ll reminisce about the 2010 U20s as the international breakout of another French star.
On the other side, Team Greece reestablished its form in taking care of business yesterday. After surviving consecutive hair-raising games against Lithuania, Montenegro and Serbia, Greece dominated Russia before taking care of Team Croatia for a bid at the championship.
Team Greece is bringing one seriously talented bunch into the championship: As a *team* they’re making 52.1% and 35.0% on twos and threes, respectively. In fact, if you subtract the current cold-shooting Leonidas Kaselakis (just 24-of-73 overall including 5-of-20 from long range), Greece is connecting at an incredible 50.9% rate.
Nikolaos Pappas, Konstantinos Papanikolaou, and Konstantinos Sloukas are the double-digit scorers for Team Hellas – all three are part of “Greece’s already-storied 1989-90 generation” which led them to the 90-85 championship win and an 8-1 run in the 2009 tournament.
Of course, that one loss last year was to … you guessed it: Team France.
The FIBA U20 European Championship Men 2010 championship tips off at 9.15pm CET (3.15pm EST). Croatia plays Spain in the third-place game at 7pm CET; Russia vs. Montenegro for fifth-place starts at 4.45pm CET; and Serbia meets Ukraine for the no. 7 spot at 2.30pm CET.
Also going on today are games pitting Turkey against the Czech Republic and the Netherlands versus Germany. Czech Republic will be relegated to “Division B status for next year’s tournament and one of these other three teams will be joining them.